Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday told the Group of 20 summit that the coronavirus pandemic is an important turning point in the history of humanity and the biggest challenge the world is facing since the World War II.

Modi also called for a new global index for the post-pandemic world that comprises four key elements – “creation of a vast talent pool, ensuring that technology reaches all segments of the society, transparency in systems of governance, and dealing with mother Earth with a spirit of trusteeship”. “Based on this, the G20 can lay the foundation of a new world,” the prime minister said.

Saturday was the first day of the 15th G20 summit, which is being hosted by Saudi Arabia this year, and is centered around the theme “Realizing Opportunities of 21st Century for All.” Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, ​Republic o​f Korea​,​ Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, ​​​Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union are the 20 countries that are part of the grouping.

With the coronavirus pandemic overshadowing this year’s event, the usual in-person meeting-was replaced by a virtual gathering of speeches and declarations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson were among the world leaders who joined Modi via video conferencing to discuss the global impact of the pandemic.

In a press release, the Ministry of External Affairs said that Modi urged world leaders at the summit to shift their focus from capital and finance to multi-skilling and reskilling to create a “vast human talent pool”. “This would not only enhance dignity of citizens but would make our citizens more resilient to face crises,” the prime minister said.

He also called for greater transparency in governance systems which will “inspire our citizens to deal with shared challenges and enhance their confidence”.

The prime minister briefly spoke about climate change as well, saying the world needs to deal with the environment and nature as “trustees rather than owners”, and work towards a “holistic and healthy lifestyle”. The benchmark for this principle could be a “Per Capita Carbon Footprint”, he told leaders.

Noting that “work from anywhere” is a new normal in the post-Covid world, Modi also suggested the creation of a “G20 Virtual Secretariat” as a follow-up and documentation repository.

In a series of tweets, Modi thanked Saudi Arabia for hosting the summit successfully and said his discussions with the world leaders was “very fruitful”. “Coordinated efforts by the largest economies of the world will surely lead to faster recovery from this pandemic,” he said.

G20 leaders to pledge to fund fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines

Leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies on Sunday will pledge to pay for a fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and tests around the world so that poorer countries are not left out, and to extend debt relief to them, a draft G20 communique showed, according to Reuters.

The leaders said the global economy was starting to pick up but the recovery remained “uneven, highly uncertain and subject to elevated downside risks.”

“We will spare no effort to ensure their affordable and equitable access for all people, consistent with members’ commitments to incentivize innovation,” the leaders said in the draft G20 statement, seen by Reuters. “We recognize the role of extensive immunization as a global public good.”

While G20 countries have contributed billions of dollars toward developing a vaccine for the virus, they have been criticised for mostly focusing on securing their own vaccine supplies. Countries such as Britain, the US France and Germany — all G20 member states — have directly negotiated deals with pharmaceutical companies to receive billions of doses, according to AP.

A day before the G20 summit, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that while $10 billion has been invested in efforts to develop vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, another $28 billion is needed for mass manufacturing, procurement and delivery of new coronavirus vaccines.

Guterres called on more G20 nations to join COVAX, an international initiative to distribute the vaccines to countries worldwide.